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The purpose of Questioning the Politics of Numbers is to offer a primer on how to read and critique research that uses numbers in the course of empirical argument. As a supplement to more comprehensive research texts, this book should contribute toward a more critical education of students and scholars interested in the politics of research. This book offers not only a list of guidelines to consider in reading research, but also a critical approach to how we can best judge and use numbers in navigating and changing our social worlds. Questioning the Politics of Numbers is meant to be a supplemental text, and is flexible enough to work with any of the major main texts in research methods on the market today. Key features include key terms, reflection questions, and review exercises. That the book does not blanch from talking about the political agendas that can shape research suggests that some will really love this book, and some others will really not. This is borne out by the reviews.
Karin Gwinn Wilkins is a Professor in the Department of Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas at Austin.
Table of Contents
Chapters 2-7 end with Key Terms, Review Questions, Reflection Questions, and an Exercise.
CHAPTER 1: HOW TO READ AND CRITIQUE RESEARCH Understanding Numbers -- Deductive and Inductive Processes -- Intrinsic Value The Political Context of Research -- Research Illustrations -- Numerical Literacy Key Terms Reflection Questions Exercise
CHAPTER 2: WHY DO RESEARCH? QUESTIONING THE RESEARCH CONTEXT Who Produced the Research? -- Researchers' Home Institutions -- Funding Institutions -- Permission Granting Institutions What is the Purpose of the Research? What are the Research Questions? How is the Research Justified? Why the Research Context Matters
CHAPTER 3: WHAT CAN WE KNOW? QUESTIONING THE RESEARCH DESIGN What is the Research Design? What are the Internal Validity Concerns? -- Experimental Design -- Quasi-Experimental Cross-Sectional Design -- Quasi-Experimental Longitudinal Design -- Case Study Design Questioning Research Designs Why Research Design Matters
CHAPTER 4: WHO IS THE RESEARCH ABOUT? QUESTIONING SELECTION STRATEGIES Who or What is the Subject of the Research? -- Vulnerable Populations How are Subjects Selected? -- Probability Sampling -- Non-Probability Sampling What are the Limitations of the Sample? Why Selection Strategies Matter
CHAPTER 5: WHAT IS THE RESEARCH ABOUT? QUESTIONING KEY TERMS How Are Key Concepts Defined? How Are Variables Operationalized from Concepts? What Do We Know About Key Variables? -- Measurement -- Assessment Why Definitions Matter
CHAPTER 6: HOW WAS THE RESEARCH CONDUCTED? QUESTIONING RESEARCH IMPLEMENTATION How Are Data Gathered? How Do Researchers Gain Access to Data? -- Deception -- Voluntary Participation -- Informed Consent -- Public Space How Do Researchers Document their Observations? -- Recording Observations -- Confidentiality and Anonymity Why Research Implementation Matters
CHAPTER 7: WHAT DO WE KNOW? QUESTIONING ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION What Do We Know about Patterns across Variables? -- Significance -- Strength -- Causality What Do We Still Need to Know? Why Analysis and Interpretation Matter
CHAPTER 8: QUESTIONING RESEARCH Guideline of Questions Questioning the Research Context Questioning the Research Design Questioning the Selection Strategy Questioning Key Terms Questioning the Research Implementation Questioning Analysis and Interpretation Why the Political Context Matters